Living Pictures, Magic Realism, and Peruvian Ceviche in Laguna

Enjoy the last days of summer with a trip to the Festival of Arts and a stay at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

Tom Swimm: Mediterranean Harmony

Every summer, the Southern California art scene blossoms when Laguna’s Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters brings art to life. Festival of the Arts features 140 award-winning local artists who display and sell their original works. Adding more local colors, each night, the Pageant of the Masters occurs, a unique art show that creates the stunning artistry of “living pictures” as real people are transformed into life-sized recreations of classical and contemporary paintings, sculptures and other works of art. The theatrical illusions are supported by a starlit amphitheater, professional orchestra, original score, live narration, intricate sets and sophisticated lighting to truly bring these pieces of work to life.

This year’s theme, “Only Make Believe,” showcases the creative expressions of artists devoting themselves to conjuring everything from Victorian historical fantasies, to illustrations for fairytales and futuristic visions of things to come.

The festival also spotlights groundbreaking artists who are true talents in their own right. One of these innovators is the award-winning pensive painter Paul Bond. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, his taste for magic realism comes from his Latin American roots. His art illuminates a distortion of reality where anything and everything is possible. Some of Bond’s work may be a nod to Dali, but his style is truly unique and his written words also elevate the artistic expression. He blends magical elements into a realistic atmosphere in order to access a deeper understanding of reality.

“Rearranging familiar objects gives me the visual symbols, which I use as a language to reflect an emotion or thought that I’m entertaining at the moment,” Bond says.

Paul Bond: A Favorable Wind

A Favorable Wind

“We typically don’t take risks in our lives because we are focused on the fear-based “what if”, rather than the deeper sense of life purpose that is calling us to ponder any given action. It is my belief that no matter how seemingly precarious our lives appear on this earth, we are eternally safe. And it is only in taking these risks that our hearts call us to, that we are ever fully alive and fulfilled. The fragile eggs suspended mid-air represent that illusion of danger. But the nest, sail and wind symbolize the divine grace and support that will always carry us through to our goal of an expanded life when we push off from the ledge.”

Bond’s exhibit is worth the trip to this year’s Festival of the Arts.  Be sure to check out his new book, The Magic Realism of Paul Bond, that was just released.

We at wandermelon also believe that the best way to experience the festival this summer is to stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel and take advantage of their exclusive invitation to the event.

The hotel offers three packages which include access to the art festival just up the road. The “It’s Only Make Believe Experience” package includes overnight accommodations and two premium seat tickets to Pageant of the Masters. Or go “Behind the Velvet Rope” to rub elbows with the artists on your guided tour backstage just before show time. The “Summer Picnic on the Grass” package will welcome you to a reserved table on the grass featuring a wine, cheese and chocolate picnic basket to enjoy during the summer concert series.

180 Blu Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

When you are not at the Festival of the Arts, kick back on the deck of 180BLU and enjoy a passion fruit mojito.  From this birds-eye view, take in the crashing surf where the top local kahunas in the lineup catch perfect waves. Or better yet, get into the water yourself as the hotel offers Billabong surf lessons for surfers of all ages and skill levels. There’s also golf at one of the six nearby courses, or the option of an adventurous snorkeling trip among the kelp forest.

Raya at Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

After your adventures, whether sporty, art-driven or a mixture of both, treat your palate to Pan-Latin coastal cuisine at RAYAExecutive Chef Richard Sandoval’s cuisine pays homage to sustainable seafood, local produce, and signature Latin flavors. Coconut shrimp ceviche and hamachi tirado are tantalizing appetizers and Latin-inspired entrees include chile ancho-pistachio crusted tuna, chipotle-miso glazed black cod and achiote barbecued salmon.  Dulce de leche pudding, lemongrass panna cotta and the Mexican chocolate tarte are just a few of the worth-the-calories desserts.

Chef Sandoval’s accolades have earned him a stellar reputation for creating exceptional dishes and experiences for his guests. His restaurants are literally all over the world, including New York, Dubai, Mexico City, Denver, Las Vegas and Punta Mita, among others. But it is Raya that has earned him the title of local favorite for Laguna area residents and visitors.

“I am always exploring the potential of Latin cuisine by preparing regional recipes with unexpected ingredients and inventive techniques from around the globe,” Chef Sandoval says. “My style is inspired by the vibrant ethnic communities across Latin America where home cooks have created new culinary traditions by blending the cuisines of their native and adopted lands.”

Ceviche at Raya at the Ritz Carlton Laguna NiguelSous Chef Marissa Gerlac’s favorite dish spotlights Peru with a new ceviche which is made with a classic Peruvian chile, “aji panca.”

“Mixto Ceviche just screams summer,” declares Gerlac.  “It’s a sumptuous blend of citrus, chile, seafood with sweet roasted corn, and mandarins, what I like to call a perfect hot summer day lunch.  At the restaurant we like to serve it with fresh fried plantain and yuca chips which is very classic from its origin from Peru. If I was making it at home, I would dress it over ice cold sliced romaine and a warm corn tortilla.”

Ceviche Mariscos

½  cup lemon juice
½  cups lime juice
1 cups orange juice
1 cups tomato scrap
¾  cup sugar
1/8  cup honey
2 oranges zested and juiced
4 tbsp aji panca chiles, de-seeded, soften in hot water for about 6mi
½  oz. kimchi base
½  oz. Yuzu

Directions: Place all ingredients in blender blend till smooth.  Be careful, as blender will be very full.  I suggest doing two batches.

In the Mix
½  cup Corn roasted
½  cup heart of palm
1  ea. Serrano pepper sliced
6  ea Mandarín segments Only
1  bu Cilantro
2  bu  Green onion

½ pound Spanish Octopus
½  pound Calamari
½ pound Rock Shrimp

Directions: Cook the Octopus at a simmer for one hour with celery, carrot, daikon, and bay. Allow to cool in its own liquid. Cook the shrimp on a sheet pan in oven 350*F for 4.5 minutes with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Cut calamari into thin rings, season with salt and pepper, and sauté in olive oil for about 30 seconds Then chill everything. Once cold, add all together.  Serve with fresh fried plantain and yucca chips or thinly cut over romaine lettuce.

Ann Wycoff & Jessica Matteson


  1. […] the Festival of Arts for 31. …Artwork stolen from Laguna Beach arts festivalLos Angeles TimesLiving Pictures, Magic Realism, and Peruvian Ceviche in LagunawandermelonLiving Legend Poncho Sanchez Performs at the Festival of Arts Saturday August […]

  2. Sachin mishra on August 11, 2011 at 1:32 am


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